Oxford Street air pollution ‘highest in the world’

Levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution on Oxford Street are the “highest in the world”, according to an air quality scientist at King’s College London (KCL).

Researchers from the university set up a monitoring station on Oxford Street in the capital, which found a peak level of nitrogen dioxide at 463mg3 (microgrammes per cubic metre).

Air pollution on Oxfords Street is as high as it has ever been, according to King's College London

Air pollution on Oxfords Street is very high, according to King’s College London

This figure is more than 11 times higher than the European Union’s safe limit of 40mg3. The monitoring station also found that average levels of nitrogen dioxide were 135mg3 – almost four times the EU limit – largely because of buses and taxis passing through the busy shopping street.

Speaking to the Sunday Times about the findings, KCL’s Dr David Carslaw said: “To my knowledge this is the highest in the world in terms of both hourly and annual mean.

“Nitrogen dioxide concentrations [on Oxford Street] are as high as they have ever been in the long history of air pollution.”

A spokeswoman for Kings College London today (July 7) confirmed that the research had been conducted by King’s College. However Mr Carslaw was unavailable for comment.


The news follows data released by the Mayor of London in June 2013, which revealed that Oxford Street was one of the most polluted roads in London for both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (see airqualitynews.com story).

The London Mayor Boris Johnson has rolled out 600 low emission hybrid buses and plans to introduce an ultra-low emission zone in the capital by 2020.

However, campaign group Clean Air in London (CAL) said the Mayor needed to do more to tackle emissions from diesel vehicles in the capital. CAL director Simon Birkett said: “Boris must end his love affair with diesel exhaust if we are to reduce toxic nitrogen dioxide.”